Cannondale sharpens the Scalpel


When the head of Cannondale’s off-road product team says cross-country racing lives in their blood, you know they’ve been working hard to create the latest iteration of the Scalpel, the family of bikes which was one of the first to succeed at a world-class XC level.

Taking cues from the F-Si, Cannondale has integrated a number of new design ideas into its full-bore XC race machine. Longer, slacker geometry, fancy tricks with the rear end, and a few neat frame touches show the engineers haven’t been lazing.

Impact-resistant BallisTec carbon

Initial availability will be in the form of the carbon framed models, built with Cannondale’s BallisTec Carbon. All the usual carbon attributes are present: light weight, strenght, stiffness and so on, and Cannondale claims it’s nice and impact resistant too, because “it’s not a matter of if, but when, you’ll crash”.

Claimed weights are pretty impressive, with the frame, shock, hardware and rear axle reportedly coming in at 2118g (size L) – this compares favourably to the current S-Works Epic (2358g), old Scalpel (2220g) and current Trek Top Fuel (2142g) – all Cannondale’s claimed weights. Cannondale have also published a number of stiffness measurements, all of which look good compared to the competition. Alloy versions will also be available later in the year.

Other nice touches include a modular internal cable routing system, a neat Shimano Di2 battery port, which itself doesn’t get in the way of internally routed droppers – something which we reckon you’ll see more and more of in XC races.

Newly designed pivot systems and a custom banjo for the hydraulically locked-out RockShox Monarch shock are also nice features. For the first time, we’re also seeing the road bike flat-mount brake mounting standard used, which is used on the chainstay to reduce the impact mounting the brake has on the flex of this area – needed for the suspension’s kinematics.

Cross-country slacker, but no slouch

If you come from the world of trail bikes, the Scalpel’s geometry might seem middle of the road, but for XC racers, this is a bit of a departure. Looking at the Large 29er version, we see a reach of 445mm, which isn’t too shabby, mated to a 69.5 degree head angle and 55mm fork offset.